VIENTIANE (6 June 2012) – Australia booked their place in the final of the AFF Under-16 Preparatory Tournament 2012 when they beat Thailand 4-2 on the third match day of the meet here at the Lao National Stadium.
With the Japan-Laos match still to play, the Aussies currently lead the standings with seven points from two wins and a draw.
“We are very happy with how things are going. We needed some tough games and that is what we got here. It is a good experience for the players,” said Alistair Edwards, the chief coach of the Australia U16 side.
“There is no doubt that we can score as we have several potent attacking players. Perhaps, the only problem with the team is that we seem to be making silly mistakes and that put the team under unnecessary pressure.”
Australia again made some changes to the starting line-up by putting in midfielder Kevin Lap from the beginning and introducing the nippy Joshua McDonald only later in the game.
And the result was almost instantaneous where after some sustained pressure, Australia grabbed the lead in the tenth minute when off a corner from Brendan Gonano, the waiting Benjamin Warland headed the ball in from the far post.
Five minutes later, the score was 2-0 for Australia with Lawrence Hanna nodding in the floater from Dylan Pickert before they stretched to 3-0 in the 21st minute of play off Kevin Lap.
Three goals down with more than half of the game still to play, prompted Thailand coach Leones Dos Santos to take out the ineffective Phicha Utara in favour of Natthaphon Piamplai.
In the 27th minute, Thailand scored their first goal of the competition when Supravee Miprathang slammed in a freekick to the top right corner of the Australian goal. The score at the end of the first half was 3-1 to Australia.
Thailand started stronger in the second half as they continued to press Australia where in the 58th minute; a shot from Phumin Kaweta was well saved by substitute keeper Lucas Spinella.
But there was no denying Thailand their second goal of the afternoon in the 65th minute where after a long ball from inside their own half, captain Sitthichok Kannoo raced ahead of Spinella to tap the ball in to put the score at 3-2.
However, Australia made sure of their place in the final this year with their fourth goal of the game through Daniel Da Silva.
“We have some problems in getting all our best players for this meet,” lamented Dos Santos after the game. “They have prior commitments but I hope that we can solve this issue in the run-up to the actual competition in September.”
AFF UNDER-16 PREPARATORY TOURNAMENT 2012
(All matches at the Lao National Stadium, KM16)
2 June 2012: AUSTRALIA 1 JAPAN 1 / THAILAND 0 LAOS 1
4 June 2012: JAPAN 3 THAILAND 0 / LAOS 2 AUSTRALIA 3
6 June 2012: AUSTRALIA 4 THAILAND 2 / Japan vs Laos (1900)
8 June 2012: 3rd position vs 4th position (1600) / Winner vs Runner-up (1900)